Pharmacist asking question to the panel at the fourth Pharmacy Business Conference in London.

NHS England’s Director of Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts, Ed Waller, said “thousands of pharmacists” will start working in general practices over the next five years.”

Speaking at the fourth annual Pharmacy Business Conference in London last week (Sep 26), Waller, however, told the conference that these pharmacists would need to be trained as independent prescribers.

“This is a pretty unique moment for community pharmacy. Not only is there a five-year plan for the NHS, there is, alongside it, five-year contractual framework and plan for both community pharmacy and general practice. And what that means is the opportunity to plan in a way that hasn’t been possible before and to develop services and offers to patients that might take longer than a year cycle can deliver,” he said.

Waller elaborated how the NHS Long Term Plan was about integrating services around the patient more effectively, making deeper inroads into the major ‘killer diseases’ and causes of ill health with three main ambitions: “making sure everyone gets the best start in life; delivering world-class care for major health problems; and supporting people to age well.”

He told the conference that those goals were underpinned by an action to overcome specific challenges of personalised care, prevention and health inequalities as well as management of efficient workforce, data and digital technology – all geared toward delivering a better value to health and care.

As the sector was preparing for the change, he said there would be plenty of opportunities for pharmacists to assume more clinical responsibilities.

“Worth being honest – some community pharmacists may take up clinical roles in the primary care network,” he said, hinting at portfolio careers for pharmacists.

Ed Waller addressing conference.

Stating that significant investment was made in primary care networks Waller said as part of multidisciplinary teams, community pharmacy had a big role to play in delivering urgent care services.

He told the conference that “an estimated up to six per cent of all GP consultations could be safely transferred to community pharmacists – which will be up to 20 million appointments a year.”

The conference later heard from Alastair Buxton, head of NHS Services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, during a panel discussion, that this could be a “potential game-changer for community pharmacy.”

Earlier the conference heard from a number of award-winning pharmacists who spoke about their individual success stories. During a discussion around ‘developing a pharmacy business fit for the future’, James Tibbs and Shikha Rishi explained how introducing a range of new services added to their revenue stream. Shikha, who runs a medical aesthetics clinic in Bournemouth, spoke about how she found her niche in private services.

Superintendent pharmacist at Priory Community Pharmacy, Olutayo Arikawe, spoke extensively about self-care saying that it was something that pharmacists did every day. A passionate advocate of Healthy Living Pharmacy, she told the conference HLP was the best thing to have happened to community pharmacy. However, it was important that pharmacists continued to engage with their communities and supported care of long-term conditions and patient choices.

She asked her fellow pharmacists to identify gaps in their communities and strive towards filling them – these are ‘money pots’ for community pharmacy, she said.

Michael Ball, pharmacist director at Broadway Pharmacy in Preston, said how an all-out effort helped him push his vaccination efforts to reach a record number that earned him the second position in the UK last year.

“It’s a significant revenue if done with real focus. Yes, it’s challenging, but helps showcase what you can do and generate income,” he added.

Speaking on a topic entitled ‘prevention is better than cure,’ superintendent pharmacist Ade Williams said he looked at the government’s focus on ‘prevention’ as a pharmacy ‘call to arms’. But he believed “community pharmacy is the only place where the goals of the prevention agenda can be met.”

Ade also pointed out that with growing use of technology and focus on data all-around healthcare, it was important for pharmacists to “gather evidence in order to be able to show what you are doing.”

Full coverage of the Pharmacy Business Conference 2019 will appear in the November issue of Pharmacy Business as well as online.

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